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For you naturephiles out there, there’s nothing like finding that local wildlife hotspot you can explore whenever the fancy takes you. For me, that place is Sawhill Ponds, a series of 18 reclaimed gravel pits that now support a wealth of interconnected habitats from meadow to woodlands and marshes. This busy microcosm offers more than a peaceful place to take a walk, no matter the season. There is an abundance of wildlife to enjoy, including owls, coyotes, waterfowl and frogs, and it’s all within a stone’s throw of downtown Boulder, Colo.
These images are part of a project documenting this wildlife refuge and its inhabitants through the year. Stay tuned in a couple of weeks for Sawhill Ponds: Winter.
A black-tailed prairie dog shouts the all clear from its burrow in a suburban Boulder neighborhood of Colorado.
On a visit to National Geographic.com today, I couldn’t believe my eyes as I looked at the Photo of the Day pick. There, featured in the little window was a thumbnail of an all too familiar prairie dog. I photographed him a few months back while hanging out along Boulder Creek Trail, and submitted the pic to National Geographic’s Your Shot.
Needless to say I’m jumping and pointing and wanting everyone to see, “make it your wallpaper!” But bottomline, it’s a reminder to me to enjoy local wildlife. Just because a species seems ubiquitous doesn’t mean it is, (the black-tailed prairie dog is being considered for endangered species listing). And even if an animal is common, isn’t it just as cool that we get see them?
Why not head out to take some pics of your own local wildlife? If you get any you like, feel free to shoot me an email, and with your permission and credit, I’ll post some on The Nature Files. Or better yet, submit it to Your Shot, you never know where it could end up!
To see more photos from moheimphotography, click the name.
Journey into Wyoming’s Red Desert, a little known wilderness the size of Denali National Park that brings the steppes of Mongolia to America’s backyard. Here, energy companies vie for the desert’s riches in a world of 50,000 pronghorn, herds of wild horses and some of the most unforgiving landscapes of the West. Come learn of this place and the struggles to protect it as you travel Into the Big Empty.
There’s sad news coming out of the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. According to a letter from the organization, it appears ten elephants have been captured in the Matabeleland South Province and sold to the tourism industry. Several of the elephants were reportedly bought by a co-owner of the Elephant Experience in Victoria Falls.
An excerpt from the NZSPCA letter explains in more detail:
“The elephants were captured in October 2008 and whilst ZNSPCA heard “rumours” regarding this capture, after investigating both Chengeta Safaris and Elephant Experience, and asking the permit office at Parks for details, we met with the Director General of National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority who assured us that no permit for such a capture had been issued. We were obviously relieved to hear this news and assured ourselves that we had been given the correct information and since we could not find the elephants on both facilities we were confident that this cruel act had not happened.
Yet the elephants were indeed captured. Mike Le Grange from AWMC captured 4 elephants on the 21st October 2008 and another 6 on the 22nd October 2008. “
“The elephants range from 4years old to two female elephants of about 18 years old. They are housed in a metal boma with no shade or shelter and are chained continuously, only being released for training. The elephants are sprayed with water during hot days to keep them cool.
ZNSPCA Inspectors noted that some elephants had old wounds on their legs which could have been caused by the chains as well as wounds on their foreheads. According to the information supplied to us, no vet was present at the capture or has examined the elephants since the capture.”
Glynis Vaughan, chief inspector with the NZSPCA, is investigating this case further and inspectors are continuing to monitor the captured elephants. The Zimbabwean also reported on the elephant capture last weekend.
For a month after birth, Southern right whale mothers and their calves rest and nurse. Then, like the pair shown here off Argentina, they start to swim faster and farther as they prepare for a long migration in the South Atlantic to reach their feeding areas. A University of Utah study found mother whales teach their calves where to eat, raising concern about whether the whales can adapt as global warming disrupts feeding grounds. (Photo/John Atkinson, Ocean Alliance)
Mom right whales know best when it comes to mealtime it seems. They lead calves to grub at traditional feeding grounds teaching their offspring generations of knowledge about when and where to find food. In fact whole clans of whales will dine together in the cetacean version of a family-owned dining spot. But this is one family tradition that could lead to starvation for an already vulnerable whale species if climate change causes shifts in food distribution.
Previous research by Vicky Rowntree, research associate professor of biology and a coauthor of the new study at the University of Utah, has already shown the impacts of climate change on right whale populations. When sea temperatures rise, krill disappear and right whales respond by giving birth to fewer offspring. Now these new studies into whale behavior could highlight another problem for the whales when it comes to food.
“A primary concern is, what are whales going to do with global warming, which may change the location and abundance of their prey?” asked Rowntree in a press release. “Can they adapt if they learn from their mother where to feed – or will they die?”
Rowntree and her colleagues collected skin samples from right whales and, using a novel technique in science, combined DNA and isotope analysis to determine whale lineages and where they tend to chow down. They found that related whales congregated in designated areas to feed, and that mothers teach calves in their first year of life where to find food.
Here’s to hoping that right whales will be quick to adapt if the buffet moves elsewhere.
A jaguar recently captured in a camera trap in Ecuador. (Photo/Santiago Espinosa)
The Amazon forests of Ecuador may be some of the most biologically rich on Earth, and thanks to the innovative technology of camera traps triggered by body heat, the Wildlife Conservation Society has captured 75 images of American jaguars in little more than a year. The photos help biologist Santiago Espinosa and his team survey wildlife populations in Yasuni National Park and Waorani Ethnic Reserve – 6,500 sqaure miles of wilderness threatened by increasing oil development, invading road systems and bushmeat trades.
Espinosa is working with indigenous Waorani groups to set up and monitor the complex camera networks. So far the traps are proving a success, giving researchers and the public a glimpse at rarely seen Amazon wildlife in their natural habitat, including white-lipped peccaries, (a type of wild pig and important prey of the jaguar), and the truly bizarre-looking short-eared dog. While there are plans to extend the range monitored by camera traps to other regions of Ecuador, you can catch up on more photos from Yasuni National Park and Waorani Ethnic Reserve for the meantime at the Wildlife Conservation Society Web site.
Hitting the snooze button might be a good idea for mammals trying to cope with global warming. Research published this month in The American Naturalist, reveals mammals that hibernate or burrow have a better chance of surviving extinction because of climate change.
Dr. Lee Hsiang Liow of the University of Oslo and his colleagues studied fossil records and found that “sleep-or-hide” mammals lasted longer than other animals as a species. Liow then compared current species trends with animals listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red list — one detailing the risk status of the world’s biodiversity. What Liow found was that, just like in the fossil record, modern mammals that hibernate or burrow tend to weather climate change better than non-burrowers.
The benefit comes at a price, however, while the critters might be better at coping with climate change, they could be slow to evolve themselves. This leaves “sleep-or-hide” mammals in the proverbial dust as other animals adapt more quickly.
“Sleep-or-hide species survive longer, but in a changing world they run the risk of eventually becoming seriously obsolete,” said Mikael Fortelius of the University of Helsinki, in a press release, “in a way it’s the classic choice between security and progress.”